It is easy to look back on the disaster that was 2020 and assume 2021 will be just as difficult. But in the employee benefits game, such pessimistic thinking virtually guarantees you will not meet your goals for the year. In some cases, brokers are even setting goals. We think that's a bad idea. In fact, building and maintaining strong relationships should be your number one goal for 2021.
Relationships are the foundation of all successful business enterprises. They always have been and always will be. How you and your clients interact over the next 12 months will determine your long-term future together. And as a benefits broker, we assume you want your relationships to not only survive 2021 but thrive heading into 2022 and beyond.
Below are some tips for building and maintaining relationships as a benefits broker. Each one is applicable at any time, but especially poignant as we look to make 2021 a better year than 2020.
1. Connect on the Positive
The pragmatic and pessimistic among us have a tendency to make connections based on the negative. A phone call might start with a statement like, "I know last year was rough, but let's look at what we can accomplish this year."
A better approach is to connect on a positive. That same phone call shouldn't begin with a rehash of last year. It should begin with a mention of all the good things currently on the horizon. Furthermore, a well-placed complement or a word of encouragement can create an instant connection on which to build.
2. Less Formality, More Humanity
The transition to remote work has made it more difficult for people to connect relationally. As a benefits broker, you can help maintain healthier business relationships by losing some of the formality and embracing more humanity. Practically speaking, it shows through in your communications.
Drop the formal titles and the industry speak. Communicate with your clients as though they were sitting on your back patio enjoying a cold drink and a good meal. Consider making emails and presentations less formal, with more graphics and less intimidating text.
3. Adopt a Partnership Mentality
Treating your clients more like partners makes it easier to inject some humanity into the relationship. Partners rely on one another. They are interested in one another's welfare. Treating your clients more as partners becomes evident because you show interest in their needs above and beyond health insurance plans.
4. Keep the Information Flowing
The main thing clients count on is you supplying is information. When it comes to employee benefits, information is everything. You can do your clients a huge service by keeping the information flowing. That doesn't necessarily mean pestering them with an email update every day, but it does mean passing on information as it becomes available.
5. Understand First, Respond Second
All successful relationships – be they business or otherwise – are built on mutual understanding. In previous blog posts, we have suggested that brokers really take the time to listen to what clients are saying. Let us take that one step further for 2021. Instead of listening solely for the purpose of being able to respond appropriately, listen so that you can truly understand where the client is coming from.
With the first two months of 2021 already behind us, we are fast approaching the start of the second quarter. Your job as a benefits broker is to build and maintain those relationships that will carry you through the next several years. We have given you some tips to get starte